Long before Martha Stewart began heaping inferiority complexes on mothers everywhere

Long before Martha Stewart began heaping inferiority complexes on mothers everywhere, before it was cool to bake your own bread, concoct your own granola and use zucchini to ruin a perfectly good pizza, lived my crunchy-before-it-was-cool mother.

She sewed clothes for us out of remnants and made entire summer meals from the produce of dad's vegetable garden. Judging by the jars of beans and peaches and salsa and tomatoes and jam, you'd assume she grew up in the Amish country and not on the shores of southern California.

My mother left her job teaching elementary school when I was a toddler. And so as long as I could remember, she was home, always home. Making that blasted granola.

Why couldn't we just have Lucky Charms  and wonder bread like the other kids? When she packed my lunch, it was raw veggies, raw fruit, homemade bread with homemade jam, and sometimes pretzels. Fat chance of ever trading any of that for Cheetos or a Twinkie.

For a very long time, I wanted nothing to do with this version of motherhood. I helped with the canning only when it was mandated, spurned the needle and thread, and schemed with my big sister about how, when we grew up, we'd "pick up pizza on the way home from work."

Yes, indeed, my crowning act of rebellion would be to buy Domino's Pizza.

But today, twenty years and too-many-to-count take-out pizzas later, I'm wishing I paid attention when mom was baking her famous sour-cream chocolate cake. Because tomorrow is my son's seventh birthday, and I'd rather eat crow than another Costco cupcake.

Mom, I love you, and I finally appreciate the hard, thankless work you did all those years. Also, can you come visit this week--and bring your canning jars? I have some tomatoes dying to be turned into salsa.


So did you grow up eating Lucky Charms or granola? Wonder bread or homemade whole wheat? Has the way you grew up shaped how you do things in your family today, for better or for worse?

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